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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rebirth on the Plains

This past week I had an opportunity to take a side trip to the Ashland, Kansas area also know as Ground Zero for the Starbuck fire or the Fire That Brought Farmers Together.
My husband had went to help a friend in the days following the fire.  He needed help assessing the devastation. He needed assistance in finding materials and more.  In the weeks following, my husband has called or texted him on a regular basis at least once a week.  I liken it to following up on a friend who has experienced a death in the family.
It was good for us to hear the humor come back and the tone in his voice change as the rains started to fall, the fences started to be rebuilt with volunteers coming weekly and the grass started to grow. (And when he was making fun of us being stuck in an April Colorado Blizzard.)
 
Bill said that it has been a couple of weeks since he has had volunteer help, but he does have a few coming in the next few weeks.
There are still lots of fences to be rebuilt, but his cows are about to COME HOME!  In Bill's words, "They need to be here."  The tone of his voice told me that he need them there. 

The signs of the fire damage are still there.  Not just the highway signs, but the burn marks where the fire crossed the highway.  The blackened trees.  The dead cedar trees and the foundations of homes and barns that are gone.
 
Bill's ranch was on the southeastern edge of the fire.  This is what his neighbor's ranch looks like.  You can see all the old grass left behind.  It is easy to see what the fire had for fuel to spread so easily.
The grass on Bill's ranch is greening up and growing much like the grass in the Flint Hills and Eastern Kansas that is burnt every year.



It was good for all of our souls to visit Bill and I think maybe it was good for him to show us the beauty of his family ranch after Randy was there to see it in it's darkest days.

We had wanted to go back to visit the Anderson Creek Fire area last year, but never could work it in our schedule and we wouldn't have had a 40 mile off the pavement tour either. 

As you remember the fire victims, also consider remembering the fire fighters who were on the front line the first days of the fires and the days following.  Most were volunteers and were from departments that have minimal budgets.  Not only are those volunteers rebuilding their own ranches and possibly homes, but there are trying to get their fire equipment back to where it needs to be as well with an already tight budget.

Enjoy this impromptu video my oldest son took overlooking Bill's ranch while my husband asked him a few questions.  I may have to turn this blogging thing over to someone who has better foresight than myself. ;) My son just wanted a 360° view and my husband was just being his inquisitive self.
video

If you are still contemplating making a donation to the relief efforts, my favorite one lately is  partnering with Howard Buffet, son of Warren Buffet.  Mr. Buffet is promising to match up to $1 million in donations.  That will make a total of $2 million for the ranchers to help rebuild fences.  You can read more about it here.

Maybe Bill will send me some pictures when the cows return to the grass.  I know I would be happy to see them!

-A Kansas Farm Mom